Powers & Perils
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Powers & Perils (1984) by Richard Snider was scheduled for release at Origins 1983; instead the convention was filled with empty demo rooms where the game was to have appeared, and the game finally rolled out early in 1984. Powers & Perils was published by Avalon Hill as a boxed set containing five books (60 pages, 52 pages, 52 pages, 44 pages, and 24 pages respectively), a pad of character sheets, and dice. Avalon Hill's house organ magazine Heroes supported Powers & Perils and the company's other role-playing lines.
Powers & Perils is an exceedingly detailed fantasy system, with skill-based character abilities and a spell-point magic system. There are five rulebooks: the 44-page "The Character Book" covers character creation, skills, and experience; the 52-page "The Combat and Magic Book" covers combat rules, movement, magic, and spells; the 60-page "The Creature Book" describes the surface and underworld, encounter tables, and fantastic creatures; the 52-page "The Book of Human Encounters and Treasure" covers NPCs, treasure, and magic items; and the 24-page "County Mordara" is an introductory scenario.
A second boxed set contained information on the world, named Perilous Lands, in the form of three books: "The Map Book", "Sites of Power", and "The Culture Book". Subsequent expansions were printed in Heroes magazine and an adventure for high level characters, Tower of the Dead, was released in 1984.
Powers & Perils was an unfortunate failure for Avalon Hill, despite their reputation for their high-quality productions; this failure was indicative of the company's lack of experience in the roleplaying field. Powers & Perils included several drawings plagiarized from fantasy artist Frank Frazetta. Avalon Hill had no previous experience with role-playing games, being primarily a producer of strategy and war games such as Tactics II, Blitzkrieg and Squad Leader, and Powers & Perils died before its time. Overpricing and strong competition from first edition Dungeons & Dragons saw P&P on store shelves at two to three times the price being asked for its contemporaries.
Due to the general failure of Powers & Perils, Avalon Hill allowed the line to die after a few supplements were published in 1984.
Adrian Knowles reviewed Powers & Perils for White Dwarf #57, giving it an overall rating of 8 out of 10, and stated that "Overall, P&P introduces some nice ideas which can be adapted readily into other systems. The game is more suited to experienced players and GMs since it is fairly complex. In general, a greater amount of work than is normal for an RPG is needed for playing Powers and Perils, but it is a good system."
Mike Dean reviewed Powers & Perils for Imagine magazine, and stated that "I have my doubts as to whether P&P will make it as a widely popular RPG, but I am sure it will gain a considerable and well-deserved following."
- Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 177. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
- Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. p. 201. ISBN 0-87975-653-5.
- Knowles, Adrian (September 1984). "Open Box". White Dwarf. Games Workshop (Issue 57): 13.
- Dean, Mike (October 1984). "Notices". Imagine (review). TSR Hobbies (UK), Ltd. (19): 20–21.